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When it comes to career success, there’s no denying that money matters. Sure, I’m all about creating career “nourishment” and finding meaningful work that enriches your life. But hey, work is work. We’re here to do a job and in exchange for that, we earn a paycheck.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs dictates that you can’t reach self-actualization (at the top of the pyramid) until your basic needs (at the bottom) are taken care of.
Similarly, in my Hierarchy of Career Needs (below), financial requirements are at the very bottom. Money is a foundational, physical need. If your career doesn’t provide for your basic financial survival, the higher-level concepts of satisfaction and nourishment are essentially worthless.
The Eat Your Career Hierarchy of Career Needs
Of course, we all know money can’t buy happiness. But, when you don’t have money, it certainly contributes to unhappiness. No matter how great a job is, if the pay isn’t enough to get by (even at the bare minimum), it simply won’t be sustainable.
This is true even for those who dedicate their lives to charitable work. Most organizations still provide people with cause-driven vocations a living wage, stipends, or other allowances to manage the basic costs of living.
But for most of us, we want a little more than that. We’re looking for financial comfort. Maybe you don’t need a Rolls Royce in the garage or a weekend condo in Malibu. But most people want to reach a place where financial concerns are minimal.
In my opinion, career choices must factor in money—not as the sole factor, but a critical one nonetheless. Your career is there to help support your life and the many goals you want to reach. Finances usually play a part in that. To what degree is up to you.
Too often I hear people say, “Forget about the money! Follow your heart!” That’s a nice notion, but it’s not realistic. To disregard the financial implications of career moves is as disastrous as letting them totally dictate your decisions. Accepting a lucrative job just for the money may meet your physical needs, but if the other higher-level needs are left unmet, you won’t be happy for long.
Here’s the point I’m really trying to make: This is not an either/or proposition. Too many people believe you can either have the well-paying job or the satisfying one. But I believe you don’t have to sacrifice financial success for fulfillment or vice versa.
More About Sacrifice…
Sometimes, yes, a minimal sacrifice—on one side of the equation or the other—may be required for a period of time. (I’ve spoken about this a lot in the past, I know.)
As long as you keep moving forward, you can make it work for you.
For example, perhaps you take a pay cut to transition into a new, exciting field with a high potential for fulfillment. As long as you have realistic expectations and you know what you’re trying to achieve, it can be worth it. Once you’re established in the field, your pay may again increase. So you’re moving forward.
Early in my career, I accepted a position I wasn’t passionate about but had high earning potential. I stayed there for nearly 5 years and, when I left, I had a hefty savings account. That money paid for my certification in nutrition and helped me start my first website, which launched the career I have today. I didn’t know it at the time, but the fulfillment I sacrificed early on really did pay off—because I didn’t stop there. I kept moving forward.
In order to achieve both fulfillment and financial success, you have to first believe that it is, indeed, possible to have both. You have to be very clear on what your needs are and what your goals are in each area. (Your ideas might be very different from someone else’s.)
You also have to be willing to keep pushing for both, even if you have to make sacrifices along the way. Remember: Keep. Moving. Forward.
What do you think? Do you believe fulfillment and financial success can go together?
Recommended Resource: How Nourishing Is Your Career? E-Workbook
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